Multi-instrumentalist (drums, percussion, vibes) Cal Tjader was one of the pioneers of the Latin jazz movement of the 1950s, taking his cue from his work with pianist George Shearing. His 1956 recording of “Invitation” is illustrative of the period’s smooth jazz approach, which crossed over into the “easy listening” music camp and achieved a great deal of popularity.
Undoubtedly it’s tenor saxophonist John Coltrane’s 1958 recording that is to great extent responsible for the composition’s standard status. Coltrane’s performance of the tune is a much more subtle approach than he would, over time, utilize, yet it’s very satisfying.
In 1961 Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Lee Morgan and tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, recorded a superb treatment of “Invitation” which has just recently been reissued on CD.
Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian